June 21, 2012
The Senate passed a farm bill today that lowers spending, ends direct payments to farmers, keeps programs that are working and eliminates others that aren’t, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
Enzi said the bill saves $23 billion over 10 years and consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13. The bill also ends direct subsidies to farmers. This means that farmers will no longer receive direct price and income support from the federal government.
One program that remains in the bill after multiple attempts to eliminate it, is the federal sugar program. The sugar program limits how much sugar can be imported and stored. Enzi reminded his colleagues of the merits of the program, which he said benefits not only Wyoming sugar growers, but consumers across the nation.
“The current sugar program benefits the very people that opponents of the sugar program wish to protect. With stability in sugar markets, confectioners, food manufacturers and beverage makers have a steady supply of quality sugar without wild price swings. Not only are U.S. sugar prices stable under this program but the United States offers sugar users some of the lowest prices in the developed world,” Enzi said. “One of the best features of the program is that it doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime.”
The bill includes language Enzi authored that authorizes resources for a competitive grant program designed to help researchers in the fight against livestock diseases, such as brucellosis.
Enzi believes the Wyoming ag community will also be pleased that the programs that can provide landowners technical expertise and other resources to improve conservation efforts, remain a part of the farm bill. Improvements have been made to the programs to make them more efficient and also more accessible to landowners in the West. Changes to crop insurance will also provide farmers with greater options for managing risk and creates the opportunity to purchase insurance programs that lock in price, yield or profit.
“Passage of this bill was made possible by allowing the Senate Agriculture Committee to work on it so that both sides could offer amendments. Both sides were allowed to offer amendments on the floor as well. Regular order is the means to regularly getting legislation through the Senate,” Enzi said.
The farm bill sets the nation’s agriculture policies and is renewed every five years. The Senate voted 64-35 in favor of the farm bill.